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Reusable Canning Lids | Should You Use Them?

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Reusable canning lids, when used correctly, are safe to use no more than 10 times, according to the National Center For Home Food Preservation. You should also do a visual inspection before each use to check for damage and throw them out if they have been compromised in any way.

While I don’t use reusable canning lids that often, I have plenty of experience canning with them. This article will address whether you should consider them and also provide their best practices for their use in canning.

How Reliable Are Reusable Canning Lids

I have had a good experience with reusable canning lids in the past, and there are many good reviews from others who use them, but let’s hear it from the experts. According to the National Center For Home Food Preservation, they have conducted tests on the safety of reusable canning lids, and here are their comments:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Tighten the metal band immediately after removing jars from the canner. Tightening the metal band ensures that the gasket forms a seal. Remove the metal screw band once the jar cools, and a seal has formed.
  • Keep track of each time you use a lid for canning. Replace lids and gaskets after 10 uses.
  • Always replace reusable lids and gaskets if you notice cuts or tears in the material.

How Many Times Can You Use Reusable Canning Lids?

According to the tests conducted by the National Center For Home Food Preservation, reusable canning lids can safely be used 10 times but should be replaced after those 10 uses. However, if at any time you notice any damage to the lids and gaskets or any cuts or tears in the material, they should be discarded immediately.

The Harvest Guard company, however, in the FAQs section of their website, is more conservative in their statement that “you should expect at least 6-8 uses per gasket before considering replacement.”

Note: There are replacement gaskets or rings available to replace the ones that become damaged.

Jelly Grandma's Pickles

Should You Use Reusable Canning Lids?

Whether you should use reusable canning lids is a decision you alone should make. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Availability: For many, like myself, there is comfort in knowing that we have a supply, however small, of reusable canning lids hidden away for a time that we cannot find a supply of the single-use lids for our canning needs. 
  • Cost: For others, it is the economics of the matter. The reusable lids are quite pricey as compared to the single-use kind. But let’s take a look at the options so that we are comparing apples to apples, so to speak:

At the present time, in 2022:

1 Dozen Ball Regular Mouth Single-Use Canning Lids cost about 33 cents each.

1 Dozen Tattler Regular Mouth Reusable Canning Lids cost about $1.30 each. But, each lid can be used 10 times, so when we divide $1.30 by 10, the cost per lid per use is only 13 cents, which makes the better deal.

But, if we purchase lids in bulk, you can often get them for even cheaper. Here are Amazon links to some bulk jars so that you can check the current price:

So, from this research, buying the Tattler reusable lids in bulk is usually the best deal, but for the canner who needs 12 dozen new lids, the investment cost may be the deciding factor.

Time Required: And the last concern is that with the busy schedules in most households, time is always a factor in canning, and the extra steps required in canning with reusable lids is often time that we just don’t have. So for those busy folks, they may choose single-use lids just to save that precious time.

So, each canner must consider these factors and decide for themselves which is the better option for lids for their canning endeavors.

What Brands Of Reusable Lids Are Available?

The two oldest brands are Tattler, the first reusable lid made, and Harvest Guard. For many years they were the only two brands available. In fact, they are the lids that were used in the tests conducted by the National Center For Home Food Preservation.

However, there are a number of newer brands that are available at the present time, but I do not have any experience with using the other brands and see no research that has been done as to their quality so I cannot speak to their effectiveness. 

Can All Canning Lids Be Reused?

The only canning lids that can be used more than once for canning purposes are the reusable lids like those made by Tattler and Harvest Guard. The single-use lids cannot be used more than once for canning because there is no guarantee that they will seal a second time, or if they do seal a second time, that they will remain sealed while your canned goods are stored.

Having said that, I never throw away any used canning lids unless they become damaged in some way. The single-use lids can certainly be used for things that are not being made shelf stable, like refrigerator jam or pickles, and they do a great job for dry food storage like dry beans, rice, and other grains. And, I have been known to store milk and other liquids in canning jars in the refrigerator, and the used lids are perfect for that task.

And, along those same lines, I always save baby food jars and other small jars like pimentos, mushrooms, and some fruit that you buy from the grocery are packaged in because the lids to those jars will reseal many times, until they become damaged. Anytime I make a batch of jam or jelly, I sterilize one or two of those extra jars for that extra jam or jelly that occasionally shows up in a batch, and they make great little tasters or gifts for people living alone that just do not eat that much jelly.

Advantages Of Using Reusable Canning Lids

  • You may only have to buy canning lids every 10 years.
  • They reduce waste.
  • They work with any canning jars and bands, which will last indefinitely unless they become damaged.
  • They are more cost-effective because of the number of times they can be used.
  • They are as reliable as single-use lids.

Disadvantages of Using Reusable Canning Lids

  • They are more expensive initially, even though they save money in the long term.
  • They are in two parts which means an extra step or two is necessary for their use.
  • They do not make that little satisfying ping when they seal.
  • A system must be developed that allows you to keep up with the number of times the lids are used.
  • More care must be taken when opening jars of canned food so that the reusable rings are not damaged. Tattler makes an opener that they recommend for this particular task.
  • Reusable lids may be lost if the jars of food are gifted.

What Are Reusable Canning Lids?

What are reusable canning lids? Reusable canning lids are just what the name implies, they are canning lids that can be reused many times and are not limited to a single use like the regular metal lids that are primarily used by most canners. These reusable lids were invented by tool and die maker Loren Stieg during a shortage of metal lids back in 1976. 

Mr. Stieg invented his reusable canning lid in two parts: (1) a lid made from food-grade plastic, and (2) a separate and removable ring made from nitrile rubber. These original lids were marketed as Tattler Reusable Canning Lids, and Tattler is still one of two big names in reusable canning lids today.

The primary difference in the reusable lids and the single-use lids is that the reusable lids come in two parts: the metal lid plus a rubber ring that fits securely on the rim of the jar. The single-use lids come to us in one piece that has the rubber ring pressed into a metal lid and is made in such a way that only one use is guaranteed. The single-use lid may seal a second time, but there is no guarantee that it will reseal, and if it does reseal a second time, that it will stay sealed.

Reusable canning lids come in two pieces so that the rubber ring can be cleaned separately and can be replaced if it becomes damaged. They work with standard canning jars and rings and are as reliable as the single-use lids. Occasionally, one will not seal or will come unsealed at some point, but the same thing also happens once in a while with the single-use lids. The two types of canning lids are equally reliable.

Small-batch-of-jelly-cooling

How To Use Reusable Canning Lids

Reusable canning lids are used in the same way as the single-use lids, with just a couple of extra steps. Here are the basics of how to use them:

  1. Prepare the food as per your recipe instructions.
  2. Prepare and sterilize the canning jars for use.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and place the lids and rings into the hot water until needed. According to Tattler, the lids and rings must be scalded.
  4. Fill the jars and wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth to remove any food or debris that may keep the lid from sealing.
  5. Add the rubber ring or gasket evenly to the jar rim.
  6. Center the plastic lid over the gasket and add the metal ring. (This can also be done by adding the rubber ring or gasket to the plastic lid and adding them to the jar together. Use the method that is the most comfortable for you.)
  7. Tighten the metal ring only enough to hold the lid on. It should not be as tight as when using a single-use lid to allow the lid to vent properly, but it must be tight enough to keep the lid on during processing.
  8. Process as usual, either by water bath or pressure canner.
  9. Immediately upon removing the jars from the canner, tighten the rings. It may be necessary to use a dish towel for this step to protect your hands from the hot jars and rings. This is a step that is not necessary when using a single-use lid, but with the reusable lids it is part of the process and necessary for a good seal.
  10. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
  11. Check the lids for a good seal, wash and dry the jars, label, remove the metal bands, and store in a cool, dry area away from any heat or light source.

As you can see, the only differences in using these lids are (1) adding the lids in 2 pieces and (2) tightening the rings a second time.

Pro Tip: It is important to note when adding the metal bands to reusable canning lids that they must be tightened only finger-tight before the food is processed and re-tightened after processing. But, just to be sure you have it right, when you first put the metal band on, lift the jar by the metal band to be sure it is tight enough to pick up the jar so that the lid doesn’t come off during processing.

In this video, I explain how to prepare jars and lids for canning:

Final Thoughts

All things considered, a combination of the two types of lids seems to be a good plan. For me, I plan to continue using the single-use lids that I have on hand while building my supply of reusable lids. I’m excited about the prospect of not having to wait until the local stores get in their canning lids to replenish my canning supplies. 

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, check out Can You Use One Piece Lids for Canning? (And Should You).

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Kathy Flint

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

Buyer Beware. I got about 50% success rate with Harvest Guard Reusable Canning Lids. I followed all the directions from the company's emails trying to help me and still could not get better than 60%. I bought these lids in bulk on sale after seeing all the hype about them on many websites and YouTube videos. I wish I had tried a few first. One YouTube video producer has replied to my recent comment saying she gets about 80% (even though her video showed 100% success ) and she is happy with 80% success. I can not justify wasting time, money and produce at that rate.

Anne

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

@Kathy Flint, I'm sorry to hear you have had such a poor success rate with the Harvest Guard Reusable Canning Lids. As I indicated in the article, I have used reusable lids in the past but not recently. I'm slowly building a supply in case I need them, but I'm happy for now with the single-use lids I've been using for years. Now that I've read your post, however, I'm going to try them to see how they work for me. I agree with you, a success rate of only 50% is not good enough, nor would I be happy with an 80% success rate. I'm used to having a 100% success rate with the lids sealing almost all of the time with only an occasional failure.

I would love to hear from other canners who use reusable lids to see what kind of success rate you have with your lids. Kathy, could this be just a "bad batch" of lids that you have gotten, do you suppose? I hope you have continued to let Harvest Guard know about the problems you are having.